Naomi Simson, powerhouse of the Australian business circuit, notorious Shark from Network TEN's Shark Tank Australia and Founding Director of successful online retailer RedBalloon.com.au, has come on board as an Ambassador for Barnardos Mother of the Year.
"I'm very open about the fact that I'm a woman of many labels – entrepreneur, speaker, director, author, blogger and innovator – but to my children, I am simply mum. And of all the roles I've ever had, being a mother is the most challenging and yet the most rewarding," Ms Simson said.
"I wanted to get involved in this campaign because it celebrates all mothers and the important everyday challenge we have in raising and nurturing our children and keeping them safe."
Now in its 21st year, Barnardos Mother of the Year is the largest and most recognised campaign celebrating mothers and all that they do for family and children.
Simson, who left corporate life to start RedBalloon in order to spend more time with her children, says celebrating motherhood is important because while it is a rewarding role in its own sense, it's crucial that mothers are celebrated and feel supported, as the role they play is so integral to the next generations of Australians.
Simson says she feels the biggest issue for mothers is their courage to embrace their strengths, acknowledge their weaknesses and know when to ask for help. "Too often we think we can do it all! And we don't want to burden others with any of the workload, but often help is but a phone call away, and we must not be too proud, and know that picking up that phone does not show weakness - it shows strength. We are all on our own journeys and it is ok to stop and ask for help along the way, as after all we are playing that bigger game - and that is opening up all the doors we can for our kids so they can seek greatness and opportunity in their own lives."
Simson adds she thinks there is something extra special about Australian mums. "I think Aussie mums are great because we really do just get on with it, whatever that might be. We love our kids and will do absolutely anything we can for them to have a happy and fulfilling life".
Manisha Amin, Barnardos Australia Marketing Director says "We're thrilled to have Naomi on board as an Ambassador for the awards. As a business owner, leader, influencer, speaker and mother, Naomi will be spreading the word on the importance of mothering and the value of mothering in today's society."
"Mothering in today's world can be a confusing space. With so many experts, books, websites, forums, social media groups, and internet-driven fads, it seems everyone has an opinion. Mothering can be tough, but ultimately it is about one thing – keeping children safe and doing the best for them regardless of the circumstances."
"So this year we invite all Australians to show everyday Aussie Mums how much we really appreciate all their hard work by nominating any mum you know who has made a difference to her own children or others in the community."
Naomi joins Ambassadors Lisa Wilkinson, co-host of the Nine Network's Today Show, Natarsha Belling from Network Ten, Dr Ginni Mansberg, celebrity doctor, James Mathison, TV Personality, Dr Kerryn Phelps, medical practitioner and public commentator, Jackie Stricker-Phelps, human rights advocate, Renae Smith, former Masterchef contestant and presenter and Dennis Coard and Debra Lawrence, both actors most memorable for their long standing roles in Home and Away.
Nominations are now open for Barnardos Mother of the Year 2016, the largest and most recognised national awards celebrating the critical role of mothering. State and Territory finalists will be announced in April and each of the three state finalists and nominators will be flown to Sydney to take part in three days of festivities, culminating in the Barnardos Mother of the Year National Announcement, held in Sydney in May, just prior to Mother's Day.
Do you know an awesome mum? Nominate now at MotherOfTheYear.com.au
Barnardos Australia is the leading child protection charity in Australia, committed to stopping child abuse. A non-government, non-denominational charity, we have been at the forefront of child protection for over 130 years. We believe all children deserve a safe and stable home. We work with families and communities facing issues such as violence, poverty, mental illness and homelessness to keep children safe at home. Barnardos Australia's extensive range of services include, family and domestic violence support, mental health support, emergency accommodation, parent education, counselling, foster care and adoption. Our evidence-based research and dedicated caseworkers and carers ensure Barnardos is well equipped to fully support, care for and nurture children in need.
For information visit: www.barnardos.org.au
Question: Why did you decide to be the ambassador for the Barnardos Australia Mother of the Year Awards?
Naomi Simson: I'm very open about the fact that I'm a woman of many labels – entrepreneur, speaker, director, author, blogger and innovator and even now a 'Shark' – but to my children, I am simply mum. And of all the roles I've ever had, being a mother is the most challenging and yet the most rewarding. I wanted to get involved in this campaign because it celebrates all mothers and the important everyday challenges we have in raising and nurturing our children and keeping them safe.
Question: What is Barnardos Mother of the Year?
Naomi Simson: Barnardos Mother of the Year is the largest and most recognised national awards celebrating mothers. The awards publicly acknowledge the critical role mothering plays in keeping children safe, nurturing them to help realise their potential and shaping the future of Australia. Celebrating its 21st year, Barnardos Mother of the Year is the charity's flagship campaign and aims to drive a social movement around the importance of mothering. For more information or to nominate go to www.MotherOfTheYear.com.au
Question: Why is Barnardos Australia important, to you?
Naomi Simson: Barnardos Australia do an incredible job working with families and communities facing issues such as violence, poverty, mental illness and homelessness, to keep children safe at home.
The Mother of the Year awards is the largest and most recognised campaign celebrating mothers and all that they do for family and children, and in its 21st year the awards continues to be a great way to showcase everyday Mums and great women who go over and above for our children and our communities. I am so honoured to be a part of this wonderful celebration of all the incredible things Australian mothers do every single day.
Question: What characteristic does Mother of the Year need to have?
Naomi Simson: I truly believe that to be authentic human beings we need to act with kindness, generosity, patience, humility. These characteristics are not dissimilar to what I believe the winner of Mother of the Year will need to possess. Although add in a sense of humour, big open arms, genuine understanding, and unwavering and unconditional love above all.
Question: Can you share with us some of the challenges you face as busy working mum?
Naomi Simson: I think the biggest challenge for mothers is their courage to embrace their strengths, acknowledge their weaknesses and know when to ask for help. Too often we think we can do it all! And we don't want to burden others with any of the workload...but often help is but a phone call away...but we must not be proud, and know that picking up that phone does not show weakness - it shows strength. We are all on our own journeys and it is ok to stop and ask for help along the way, as after all we are playing that bigger game - and that is opening up all the doors we can for our kids so they can seek greatness and opportunity in their own lives.
Question: What advice do you have for mothers returning to work after having a child?
Naomi Simson: I have always believed that work-life balance is an absolute croc! It is a label we give ourselves to judge each other harshly about our choices. I think we should be proud of all mothers in our society for the roles they each play. And these roles are different for everyone, at different stages of their lives. I chose to leave my corporate career to start RedBalloon to spend more time with my kids - it worked out that often my kids would be blowing up red balloons at the office with me...but at least we were spending time together! I would say to any mothers returning to work, to be confident in their decision to do so and simultaneously know when to ask for help. Know that, to your children, you are a role model in all that you do. It is just so important that when you are with them, to be truly present with them.
Question: Who do you turn to for support regarding parenting?
Naomi Simson: Of course my own mother! In the 1960s my mum worked on one of the first computers in Australia at Monash University, so being a woman and being a mother at the same time in the business world, is very normal to me. I remember watching her head off to work in her suit every morning and thinking to myself, "Gee, that looks fabulous. When I grow up I want to be just like her."I've learnt many lessons from my mother, and I do turn to Mum for advice and support from time to time in raising my own children. I do ask her not to tell my kids some of the stories she has of me growing up though!
Question: How do we nominate a great mum for the 2016 Mother of the Year Awards?
Naomi Simson: We really want all Australians to show our Mums how much we really appreciate all their hard work. Nominating any mum you know who has made a difference to her own children or others in the community is easy, just visit MotherOfTheYear.com.au
Interview by Brooke Hunter